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Bolt and Blake praise Birmingham

GREETING: Yohan Blake meets his namesake community stalwart Lloyd Blake

THE superb double act of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake have done it again for Birmingham – by heaping praise on the city twice in two days.

Following their world record-breaking victory along with Nesta Carter and Michael Frater in the 4x100 metres relay, the two sprint stars were in front of the cameras telling millions of TV viewers how much they owed to the University of Birmingham where they based their pre-Olympic training camp

Such gratitude comes hot on the heels of their praise for the city 48 hours earlier following their one, two, three victory in the 200 metre final where Jamaica made a clean sweep taking gold, silver and bronze.

Despite his no-show at the university during a public training session days before London 2012, it’s clear Bolt has a soft spot for Birmingham.

Minutes after the relay final he said: “ I'd like to say all the big up to Birmingham, the university. That’s where's we trained. They really supported us.

"We got everything possible. We got indoor facilities, the gym works and everything so for me it’s an honour. Thank you guys for everything you have done for me really. Thank you."

While Yohan Blake also had a word of thanks: "Big up Brunel University that supported us and also Birmingham University - you guys are great."

Bolt signs volunteers' T-shirts as he leaves the University of Birmingham

After the first public thank you, Zena Wooldridge, the university’s director of sport, had admitted such a show of gratitude was 'a dream come true'.

She said: "We had a vision that they might thank us publicly if we at the university came up to the mark – and we must have done to enjoy such public praise. We’re over the moon."

And now business leaders in the city are working out the true value these warm words will bring for Birmingham’s economy.

Plans are already well under way to secure more trade deals between Jamaica and Birmingham. Anthony Hylton, Jamaica’s minister for industry, investment and commerce, who visited Birmingham during the Olympics, publicly declared that Jamaica is ‘a nation on a mission’ in its quest to develop strong business links.

During the athletes’ 11-day stay at the university, members of the squad made several public appearances including attending a special Olympic service held in their honour at Birmingham Cathedral and a welcome gala dinner at the university’s impressive Great Hall.

That evening, a pair of Bolt’s running spikes were auctioned for £25,000 which will go towards giving a Jamaican student a scholarship to study for a degree at the university.

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